But when voting information from Wednesday’s show turned out to be incorrect – the result of a graphics error during the recap – contestants were asked to perform again on Thursday.
The impromptu performance show, which gave the singers less than 24 hours to prepare, was chaotic: Contestant after contestant was brought out in speedy fashion, and the judges were forced to deliver their comments quickly (often only one or two of the judges got a word in after a performance).
The craziness was summed up perfectly by host Mario Lopez, who said, “This is sort of like speed dating … but speed singing.”
Simon Cowell, who was visibly upset and frustrated during the disorganized episode, added: “It was like being at McDonald’s. I’ve never had anything so quick in my life. But it was good.”
But the pressure to prepare a new song in such a short period of time turned out to be a great motivator, as several contestants delivered showstopping performances on Thursday’s show. The best of the night included one contestant who may have saved herself following a “horrible” performance on Wednesday.
Florida teen Rion Paige wowed the judges Wednesday night with her performance of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and on Thursday, she took on Lady Gaga‘s “Born This Way” in a performance that was equal parts emotional and badass.
It brought tears to her mentor Demi Lovato‘s eyes and a standing ovation from all four judges (the only one of the night). It also prompted Cowell to tell Lovato to “let this girl choose her songs from now on.”
An enthusiastic Lovato even Tweeted about the performance, exclaiming, “RION JUST KILLED IT!!!!”
Ellona Santiago, 17, the California high-school senior who was called “a little powerhouse” by Kelly Rowland on Wednesday, had another great night with a pitch-perfect performance of David Guetta’s “Titanium.” Soulful and bluesy, it won praise from Cowell who declared, “That was the best performance you’ve ever done.”
The show also gave contestants who didn’t shine on Wednesday a chance to redeem themselves – like Nashville bartender Rachel Potter, 29, whose lackluster performance of “This Old Heart of Mine” the previous night prompted Cowell to say that “it was horrible.”
After Rachel performed “Anyway,” he asked if she had a twin sister. “Because, it’s like, the girl who sang yesterday was horrible and the girl who sang tonight was fantastic,” he said, adding, “It’s all about song choices. That was really good compared to last night.”
But did Rachel do enough to save herself from elimination? The results of Thursday’s re-vote will be revealed Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.